Suns News

Newsroom Notes: Suns Lose Battle of the Paint, Fall to Nuggets

Gortat posted a career-high-tying 18 rebounds Thursday against the Nuggets.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Stefan Swiat,
Posted: March 10, 2011

Coming into Thursday’s matchup against the Nuggets, the Suns had won 12 consecutive home games over Denver, their longest home win streak over any Western Conference opponent. Even more telling, Nuggets Head Coach George Karl hadn’t won in Phoenix since December of 1997.

And while those little “nuggets” of info would usually point to a Suns victory, it doesn’t when you allow your opponent to score 24 points off turnovers in the first half. But that’s exactly what happened in the first half Thursday, with the hole becoming too deep to dig out of as the Suns dropped a 116-97 home decision to Denver.

For the night, the Suns gave up 32 points on turnovers. The turning point of the contest occurred when the Nuggets went on a 6-1 run at the end of the second quarter.

The Suns turned the ball over three times in the last 6.1 seconds of the half, putting them behind by 10 heading into halftime. Unable to answer in the third period, the Suns were on the wrong end of a 26-12 third-quarter run that sent them spiraling.

Finding themselves down by as many as 24 in third, they never recovered after that.

“If you look at the points in the paint, which was 66, and if you look at their turnovers on points (32),” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “I mean that’s almost 100 of their points.

“You will have no chance to beat this team if you have those kinds of stats against them. We just didn’t do a very good job of containing their dribble penetration.”

Maybe in preparation for his duel with former teammate Dwight Howard on Sunday looming, Marcin Gortat increased his league-leading total of double-doubles off the bench to 14 by totaling 14 points and a career-high-tying 18 rebounds on the night. He stands just one shy of Maurice Lucas’ franchise-record 15 doubles-doubles off the bench during the 1984-85 season.

The only other players in double figures for the Suns were Jared Dudley (13 points), Hakim Warrick (12 points) and Grant Hill (12 points). The Suns dropped the season series to Denver for the first time since 2003-04 and for the first time since Steve Nash returned to Phoenix.

Able only to muster 41-percent shooting from the floor, the Suns allowed Denver to shoot 52 percent on the evening. However, the most dispriting stat was the Suns getting outscored 66-42 in the paint.

“We didn’t have good help,” Gortat said. “We had a very good first rotation, but we just didn’t have a very good second rotation and then we just have to get better at that.”

The Suns will have two days of practice before they play host to Jason Richardson, Earl Clark, Hedo Turkoglu and the Orlando Magic at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Team Chemistry

While Grant Hill is the eldest Sun, he may also be the wisest. In an effort to foster a little camaraderie on the road, Hill arranged for the most of the team to head to an Oklahoma-Oklahoma St. men’s basketball game while the Suns were playing in Oklahoma City this past weekend.

“We were out there, had a day off and they had a game,” Hill said. “I just tried to get a head count on who wanted to go and most of the guys did. It ended up being a pretty good game.”

In Big 12 play, Oklahoma defeated Oklahoma City, 64-61, in Norman. Not only was Hill creating a little “team-building” amongst the Suns, but he was there supporting his former college buddy.

“I played with him when he was a freshman,” Hill said. “He’s very talented and was a starter on our team that advanced to the finals. He’s a really good person and a great guy.”

Besides taking his teammates on field trips, Hill is also partaking in a little friendly trash talk with the broadcasters. Suns broadcaster Scott Williams, who attended North Carolina, made a deal with the former Dukie that required him to wear a Tar Heels shirt to shootaround after Duke’s loss to NC last Saturday.

It was reported that former UNC standout Vince Carter was more chipper than usual at shootaround that day.

Hill's Film Premiere

Over 800 films were submitted for the Phoenix Film Festival, but only one will kick off the event. That film happens to be “Starting at the Finish Line: The Coach Buehler Story,” which was produced by Grant Hill.

The film is about Duke’s long-time track and field coach, Al Buehler, who was known for his accomplishments both on and off the track. Buehler was a progressive voice in athletics regarding prejudice and limitations placed on women and minorities in sports.

The film is narrated by Hill.

“For people that don’t know his story, I think they’ll come away feeling pretty impressed,” the Suns forward said.

The 11-year event is an eight-day festival that takes place at the Harkins Scottsdale 101 theaters. Hill’s film will screen at the Opening Night Gala on Thursday, March 31.

“This festival was around the corner and we thought it’d be neat to have it in Phoenix,” Hill said.

Hill has already shown the film’s “rough-cut” at a private screening at Duke, where everyone was already familiar with Coach Buehler. Now he’ll be showing the film to people who will probably have little familiarity with the coach.

After showing the film, the former Duke star will probably hang around for a Q&A afterwards. Fellow teammate and filmmaker, Steve Nash, will most likely attend the event in support.

Nash has already seen the rough cut and offered Hill some tips from his own experience in documentary filmmaking.

“I think he’s the only one on the team that understands film festivals and how they work,” Hill said. “He gave his opinions, which were good. His tips were along the same line as mine, which was encouraging.”

If you would like to see the film, check out the film festival’s website by clicking here.

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